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The world’s first synthetic Windpipewas transplanted successfully in a human body in the Karolinska University Hospital in the Stockholm suburb of Huddinge, a hospital in Sweden. This transplant was carried out by an International team of surgeons. Their patient was a 36 year old man who was suffering from late stage tracheal cancer. For him to live a regular life again he needed to have a trachea transplant, or better known as a windpipe transplant.
The synthetic trachea was covered in with the man’s stem cells, and then was transplanted into his body. This procedure will be a revolution in the field of trachea transplants. It would eliminate the need of a donor. The patient would then not need to wait for a donor and just have a trachea synthetically made, then covered in their stem cells so the body can accept as its own. This procedure will be extremely beneficial to patients who are children. It is much more difficult to find a trachea donor for children. So this would make it possible for all children regardless of age to find a donor much faster. Now that the procedure can be done sooner without the wait for a donor, the patient can have the surgery done sooner and can have more time to recover sooner.
It seems that the human heart being able to heal itself using stem cells is now possible.
Recently, British scientists have found that the heart has the ability to mend itself. Just a decade from now, they would be able to work out a foolproof method by which a heart that has gone weak will be able to rejuvenate itself and heal itself as good as before.
When a person has a heart attack, the heart’s muscles and blood vessels wear out. However, according to British researchers, the muscles and blood vessels will now be able to rebuild themselves to normalcy. This will drastically reduce the damage done to the heart in the long term which will in turn improve the quality of the life of the victim.
Stem cells really have had an amazing year so far. Researchers have made great strides with what stem cells can do. The other day two more new experiments were reported.
In the first experiment a team from Georgetown University, used spermatogonial stem cells and turned them into pancreatic cells; the spermatogonial stem cells are ones that become sperm in men. The resulting pancreatic cells would not be exclusive to just men, however, because the technology can be used in female oocytes as well.
In the experiment, Ian Gallicano (head of the team), used “germ-derived pluripotent stem cells” (cells that have the ability to become any cells in the body) and in a lab used compounds that helped these cells turn into pancreatic beta cells. When transferred into diabetic mice the cells did indeed produce insulin and acted like the beta cells that the body destroys in patients with Type-1 diabetes. Currently there is no cure for the disease and those suffering from it must take insulin for life. A few people may be eligible for the “Edmonton Protocol” where the pancreatic cells are taken from cadavers, but obviously there are some problems with that method such as compatibility as well as a shortage of cadavers. This new method would certainly be a breakthrough and a life changer.
Geron Corporation has announced that it has started a clinical trial in which it has begun treating the first patient to ever receive embryonic stem cells! This is the first documented case of this occurring and is a ground breaking achievement. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued Geron the first ever license that allows the use of embryonic stem cells to treat people, in Geron’s case, those with recent spinal cord injuries.
Researchers in Boston are closer to developing a more efficient way to turn skin cells into stem cells. The method, which does not require the use of embryos, was first developed in 2007, but has been recently improved. This is once again good news for people suffering from neurological disorders such as Parkinson's that require stem cells.
The new method produces iPS cells, or induced pluripotent stem cells just as before, but it now uses forms of RNA(ribonucleic acid) to treat the skin cells, whereas the earlier method included disrupting the DNA of the skin cells. (iPS cells are usually adult somatic cells whose production was artificially induced to express certain genes). What was bad about this process was that there was a risk of cancer involved for people receiving these new transplant cells. Now, the RNA is the one that sends the instructions from genes to the protein making center of a cell, which is a much safer way to create these stem cells.
Great news for those suffering from Alzheimer’s, brain tumors or who have had a stroke! British scientists have discovered a genetic mechanism in the development of the nervous system, and it could be soon used for new treatments for these afflictions. The gene, named Sox9, is responsible for the development of neural stem cells in the human embryo. These stems cells are known as master cells since they develop into crucial brain or spinal tissue. Scientists found out that they can use Sox9 to start the production of these master cells, which means that these cells can someday be used to control the production and regeneration of various types of nerve cells.
The development of the nervous system in a human embryo begins two weeks after conception, and until the fifth week, it is mostly made up of neuroepithelial cells. These cells are the ones that control the development of the brain and the spinal cord. After the fifth week, stem cells become other types of nerves and supporting cells that make up the central nervous system. The Sox9 gene is needed for the very purpose of turning the neuroepithelial cells into stem cells; however, a gene known as Shh is also needed for the Sox9 to work.